Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Oh, I see Wonder Woman has already heard the news...

Uh-oh.

I believe the fact that artist David Finch and his wife Meredith Finch would be taking over DC's Wonder Woman title has been rumored for a while now, probably through that one particular disreputable comic book rumor site, but DC made it official today.

Mr. and Mrs. Finch will be inheriting the title from writer Brian Azzarello and artists Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins and Goran Sudzuka, a team that's been on the book since the September 2011 relaunch. I read the book for a while, and it was always a very well-made book, with even the fill-in artists Chiang frequently needed being of exceptionally high caliber (and able to match his designs and storytelling without jarring the reader too badly). I didn't particularly care for Azzarello's take on the character, which was the basic Wonder Woman-as-warrior take that's dominated the character since the success of Kingdom Come, only with a little less personality than usual. The storyline, which was one continuous story arc, was also rather repetitive and dull, particularly when experienced in monthly, 20-page installments, and I eventually dropped the book.

That said, it was always one of the best-looking titles of the New 52, and while I personally quickly grew disenchanted with Azzarello's particular take, it's worth noting that he and Chiang really created a standalone Wonder Woman book that could have worked perfectly well in the old continuity or the new continuity and was, almost entirely, divorced from the rest of the DC Universe line (a passing familiarity with classic mythology was probably more useful than a passing familiarity with DC continuity). It was basically modern, urban fantasy, with a character that looked a lot like Wonder Woman at the center. I'm sure it will read quite well as the five or six collections it will ultimately end up being, and it will be a rare modern Wonder Woman run that reads smoothly all on its own, with no need to turn to Wikipedia between chapters.

Theirs will be a tough act to follow, and wile I suspect David Finch is regarded as a "hotter" or more popular artist than Chiang (it wasn't Chiang DC hired to draw Forever Evil, after all), I don't know of anyone who thinks Finch is actually a better artist, nor can I imagine such a person existing.

Azzarello is a rather well-respected writer (his willingness to work on Before Watchmen projects aside), with a long list of comics good, bad and great to his name. He's not the best nor the best-selling writer to have worked on a New 52 book to date, but he's certainly among the most respected.

And the Finchs...?

Well, David Finch's work since coming to DC Comics has so far has consisted of the following:

—Two volumes (one pre-Flashpoint, one post-Flashpoint of a signature Batman title he was meant to be both writing and drawing, Batman: The Dark Knight, which he immediately fell behind schedule on, and gradually took on inkers, and then a co-writer, and then a writer-writer, and then fill-in artists, until eventually he the Batman title launched as David Finch's Batman title became just another Batman title.

—Three issues of Justice League of America, a high-profile series launched in 2013 and sold as an ongoing by writer Geoff Johns and Ficnch (it has since been canceled after 14 issues, only about half of which Johns scripted or co-scripted.

—The seven-issue Forever Evil miniseries, which shipped late on two occasions

—A bunch of mostly bland, terrible covers, including a widely ridiculed variant cover for 2011's Justice League #1, the first book of the New 52 relaunch (above). While there's nothing at all good about that cover, many of those who  mocked it focused on his Wonder Woman and her jutting hip.

As for Meredith Finch, she is apparently a newcomer to comics, although I've heard mention that she's done some work for Zenescope, and did some behind-the-scenes, uncredited co-plotting with her husband on a few of the very few comics he wrote.

While it's great to see another woman working in a creative capacity at DC these days (and to hear from the Finch family that the publisher is actively trying to involve more women in making their comics and are actively trying to appeal them), and to see a relative newcomer can still score a prime gig at one of the bigger IPs at one of the Big Two superhero publishers, the stink of nepotism certainly sours all of that. It would be a lot easier to be enthusiastic about DC hiring a relatively new writer who happens to be a woman if this particular woman had some sort of body of work to show for herself and, of course, if she didn't also happen to be married to one of the publisher's more high-profile artists (If she did have a career in comics prior to this, then I'm sure she, her husband and DC would still be open to charges of nepotism, or the appearance of nepotism, but it could be easily negated with a "Fuck you, I wrote all this stuff before I even met David Finch, thanks!").

I wonder if this will actually appeal to any women, as I imagine David Finch will be a big turn-off, and the fact that Meredith Finch seems to have gotten the gig primarily by being married to him could rub lots of female comics fans who know and love lots of comics creators (and may be aspiring comics creators themselves) the wrong way.

If DC wanted to have a male and female couple on Wonder Woman, I'm a little surprised they didn't go with a couple already on their radar, like Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, who are co-writing the surprise hit Harley Quinn (and are a well-respected pencil artist and well-respected inker, respectively), or even Maris Wicks and Joe Quinones, who recently collaborated on a Batman: Black and White short...and Quinones is coming off the excellent, Bechdel test-passing original graphic novel Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell.

It's been suggested that this is likely just a very temporary creative team, which would make sense given Finch's track record for hitting his deadlines for too many months in a row, and would make more sense still given the fact that Wonder Woman is now the flagship book in an honest-to-goodness line of Wonder Woman comics (consisting of Superman/Wonder Woman and the upcoming anthology series Sensation Comics Starring Wonder Woman). Even if Finch and Finch are only there to kill six months while DC locks down, I don't know, Phil Jimenez and Jerry Ordway or Steve Rude or Devin Grayson and Rick Burchett, or Becky Cloonan and Quinones, or Greg Pak and Jae Lee,  or John Ostrander and Jan Duursema, they're still a rather surprising, and even suspect, creative team. Wouldn't writer Geoff Johns, who has been writing a Wonder Woman who is very, very different than Azzarello's in Justice League for some three years now, or Charles Soule, the Superman/Wonder Woman writer who has been diligently bridge the gap between the Wondy of Justice League and the Wondy of Wonder Woman seemed to be better choices?

Personally, I find myself much more interested in whatever team comes after the Finch/Finch team, as if they're not being hired as placeholders meant to keep the title warm for the next team, chances are between David Finch's deadline issues and the creative team merry-go-round of the New 52, they won't be there that long anyway.

7 comments:

David said...

I don't know if we'll really get a sense of Meredith's writing skills, as current DC editorial pretty much crushes all but the most powerful of writers.

Also, find it odd that you bring up the Bechdel test, as it's not really an assessment of anything. I can think of dozens of different anime that pass the test with flying colors that are still sexist as hell.

Jer said...

given the fact that Wonder Woman is now the flagship book in an honest-to-goodness line of Wonder Woman comics (consisting of Superman/Wonder Woman and the upcoming anthology series Sensation Comics Starring Wonder Woman)

The "line" of Wonder Woman books is pretty much an accident, though, isn't it? The Superman/Wonder Woman book comes about because of a New 52 gimmick to emphasize that Superman isn't married to Lois Lane anymore. And the Sensation Comics book seems to be because of the choices of the Digital First editorial office rather than the main DC editorial office.

I mean I'd be excited if I really thought that DC had finally realized that Wonder Woman was an awesome character and that they should be doing more with her, but I don't think that's what is actually going on. I think it's more an accident of timing than anything else.

(And, frankly, if someone in Bob Harras's office decided to put Wonder Woman front and center, I doubt I'd enjoy the book that resulted. So I'll just hold out for Sensation Comics. If its at least as good as the previous two anthology series that the digital offices put out it'll be an enjoyable way to spend 99 cents nearly every week...)

Rev'd '76 said...

I don't see how hiring Finch's wife enables DC to say "We have a woman working on Wonder Woman!" when there are literally a hundred women working in comics now who would not only create something fucking astonishing-if-not-award-winning if given half a second's opportunity but would be happy to play with the character if they were allowed to, well, play?

It's the editorial edict on WW that's the truly hobbling thing. If Time/Warner, Time-Warner, Timewarner... How d'you spell that, anyway? If they would stop looking at Diana as a holy cash cow, lose their uptight determination to keep her a grimderp Warrior Nun and maybe make with the invisible planes and hi-concept hijinks again, they would sell more books. If they would only make her fun. Girls like fun from time to time, y'know. Girls don't necessarily want to have to talk about breaking the patriarchy & their pesky menses all the time, they like to dance and even make fart jokes.

Since around the time of Identity Crisis, DC's Wonder Woman has been a neck-snappin' passel of creative issues to rival Hawkman, and it's the "creative ownership" of tImEwArNeR and their editorial poodles who have made that happen.

Hiring Finch and his wife is only one more dumb, plodding step on the road to a movie that isn't going to do anything to revive the character. Whereas: would you read Kate Beaton's history of Wonder Woman? I would read the ink right off Kate Beaton's Wonder Woman.



* (Hellcat, Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Pretty Deadly, Saga... Notice anything going on here, DC? Have you noticed how many quality, high-profile titles have Jordie Bellaire's name on them every month, unlike your precious Finch? One powerhouse who sets the visual tone for an average of two to three books a month EVERY month to your one house-brand "superstar" who can't keep a book alive.)

JohnF said...

I, for one, never need to see the Invisible Jet make a comeback. WW can fly under her own power. I like it like that.

Rev'd '76 said...

@JohnF:

It's not that Diana needs an invisible jet (any more than Nick Fury needed an invisible Jag), but the jet is a kind of litmus for the degree of whimsy & absurdity that would establish what kind of writer we're dealing with. Especially in the DC era of paranoid, humorless neck-snappin' vitriol.

If Grant Morrison could make the ever-problematic Egg-Fu Yung "work" in the modern DCU then how hard can it be to make Diana into something better than a fat publisher's hood ornament?

Rev'd '76 said...

Simpler & more cynical:

There is very little wonder associated with the woman, these days.

SallyP said...

This combination sure as heck isn't appealing to THIS woman! I have been enjoying the heck out of Azzarello and Chiang's Wonder Woman. Granted, I wasn't overly thrilled about her new parentage and some other things, but I like his takes on the Greek Gods, and I love his Orion, and the art has been gorgeous.

I console myself with the feeling that there is no way that Finch will last more than a few months, since he has some...issues with finishing issues. I've never even heard of Mrs. Finch, so I cannot judge her writing.

But oh, I would KILL to have Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti doing a Wonder Woman book!